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John Carroll men's basketball team enjoying turnaround season for the ages

A year after finishing last in the OAC, the Blue Streaks have won a share of the conference title and are ranked eighth in the nation.

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — From worst, to first. That's the motto this season on the hardwood at John Carroll.

"I feel like we had a lot of doubters at the beginning of this year, and I think that we've shown them that we can do this," men's basketball guard Luke Frazier says. "I think just winning the OAC and going into the tournament now, I think we have a really good chance of showing everyone what we're capable of."

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Who could blame the doubters? The Blue Streaks finished last season going just 2-13 in Ohio Athletic Conference play, finishing at the very bottom of the standings.

But this year, its a whole new ballgame at the private Jesuit university. Coach Pete Moran went out and added some new dynamic playmakers and a brand of basketball that has seen his team ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation this year.

JCU is currently eighth, and shared the OAC regular season title with No. 4 Mount Union. The squad seems destined for a deep run in the Division III NCAA Tournament.

"There's been a target on our back since this summer," Moran told 3Sports. "I think we're battle-tested, I think we've won games in different ways. We're pretty dynamic in regards to the fact that we can play in the 90s or we can play in the 60s and still win basketball games, and you know, when you're able to do that, that's the mark of a good basketball team."

Pete Moran, currently in his sixth season heading the program, is the son of legendary former John Carroll head coach Mike Moran, who led the Blue Streaks to 12 NCAA Tournaments and a Final Four appearance in his 25 years in charge. The younger coach admits having this type of success and doing it at a place so near and dear to his family makes it all that much more special.

"I sit right over there [on the bench], and right in front of me, every game, it's [my dad's] name on the court," Pete explained. "You know, you get a little emotional thinking about it and what we've been able to do, and to put another year — another banner year — up there next to his success is something that, hopefully, way down the road I'll be able to reflect [on] and really get to enjoy."

John Carroll just may be dancing again come March, which would be their first trip to the tourney since Pete Moran's first season in 2018. The once-proud program is back, and it doesn't feel like they'll be going anywhere anytime soon.

The top-seeded Blue Streaks will host Marietta Thursday night in the OAC men's basketball tournament semifinal, with the winner facing either Mount Union or Heidelberg in the championship game.

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